Refine Your Vision
This brings us back full circle to 20 years ago when we sat at Alcott Meadows and we wrote our dreams, the dream book. And it was the beginning of all of this. And back then, if you would've asked us, if anybody would see value in us filming and photographing our personal adventures climbing and kayaking, we would've cracked up hysterically. Like oh yeah that would be great. But by going through all of that process of writing everything down and honing in on what's really important in your life, incredible things happen. My family will attest to it. I always say don't throw things out to the universe that you don't want to have happen. And if you write it down and you work towards it, it's amazing. It's like magic. So I think if we hadn't been so clear in our mission and in our pathway that we never would have gotten to where we are today. And creating this incredible lifestyle that we're living. And we're still don't really know what's on the horizon. We feel like we're just at the ti...
p of the iceberg of the possibilities. And so it all comes down to what are you really afraid of? I am afraid of bears (laughs). That's true. We just had these right outside our RV in Alaska. We were on assignment up there for two months. And we could've reached outside of our window and touched them. We didn't because I'm afraid of them. Just to be clear. But it all comes down to what are you afraid of?? And what risks are you willing to take to get to where you want to be? And are you willing to put in the time and the effort to build those skills and talents to make it happen? But the most important thing is, are you willing to pick yourself up the 10 billion times you're gonna fall over in the process? It took us 20 years to get here. And it was super hard many times. It was terrifying when we sold our house. It was terrifying when we quit our jobs and started our own business. It's terrifying taking our kid out of school, public school where I always taught and giving her online school opportunities. All these things are big question marks and scary things. But we do the best that we can to plan ahead and minimize the risks as much as we can. And then charge full speed ahead. So I'm gonna let Abby wrap this up for us because I think she says it best.
So almost four years ago now, my parents sat me down and said we're gonna try this new experiment for next year and we're gonna move into a RV and travel all over North America. So we turned the RV into a home and we turned it into a lifestyle too. And we had the time of our lives and we still are. And our adventure spirit is shining through. So I challenge all of you to go to paradise and write down what you love, what you hate and what you want to accomplish. And give yourself permission to try new things and possibly fail. And one of my favorite quotes is written by Audrey Hepburn. And she said, nothing is impossible. The word itself says I am possible. So remember what it's like to be and go follow your dreams. Are there any questions? (audience applauds)
So that has been our extraordinary journey. And I can promise you that we have tried and failed at just about everything possible in the photography industry. So we're happy to answer any questions that you guys might have about all of the things. Let her rip.
Wow that's extremely inspiring. You guys are awesome. First of all just wanted to say, it's inspirational because I think there's so many people that have this sort of must be nice mentality about traveling and travel is so important to me. It's really nice to see that you can make it happen. But I do have a question about the practicality of your work. You still occasionally do portrait sessions?
So how do you get your customers to come to you if you're moving around so much?
So that's kind of something we've always done. With me working being inspired in these amazing places that aren't necessarily convenient places, we've always had our clients meeting us wherever that might be. We would pitch a certain feel or a look, maybe a couple of them and then the client will hone in on one of those and then that's the direction that we would go. And sometimes they're driving gosh I mean, two hours is like common and maybe drive six, seven hours to meet us somewhere is something that would happen often. And sometimes we're flying places to do these shoots. So really we took that same business model and just hey, now we can be in more places. And we try and align that with our travel schedule. Sometimes that is our travel schedule. But sometimes there's other things going on. And we have a client interest, hey we're gonna be in Seattle this week. You know how's Seattle sound? Well no we were thinking more redwoods. Okay we'll meet you in California. So it' always in flux and it's always changing but that's kind of how it goes down. That part was less of a hurdle than a lot of the other aspects for us.
I think one of the big things for that is, we had always taken our Colorado clients out into the world. And what's been really neat about this particularly through our Famagogo movement is now we have clients all over the place. And so clients that couldn't come to Colorado or couldn't meet us in other places are saying okay, I am in North Carolina, when are you going to be here? We've got to have portraits with you. And so our client base went from this little base in Colorado to the world. And so that part of our business has grown as well. Which we kind of envisioned that slowly disappearing and quite the opposite has been true. So a lot more people know about us now through Famagogo and through our commercial work. And so the portrait part of our business has grown as well.
What about social media content? Because I thought to myself within the last six months, maybe local businesses would appreciate me coming in if I pitched saying, I can take iPhone photos better than you. Not in that way, obviously that would be stupid. But the point was, I wouldn't have to bring in SLR gear, and all that lighting. And I'd say, alright you don't have the time, maybe you don't have the eye, I can come in for an hour. Your employees will be doing X or you food is plated this way. And then boom hand you content that you can then spit out on a scheduled basis on Instagram or something. So do you do anything similar to that or is it high end gear?
To some degree, yeah. We're doing that with some of the outdoor companies. We're creating images that we know that's their main use is going to be social media. Sometimes it's website and social media. Sometimes it's for like trade shoots, show boots and whatever. But almost all of those images are really keen on getting them out socially too.
But are they done with heavy duty gear? Part of my point is also when you hear about these young models, right? Where they're just taking selfies and they have this crazy followings and it doesn't have anything to do with skill or these fantastic photos. It's just of the moment and it gets out to the right audience and you make buck.
So there's companies that are looking for that type of imagery. I know there's certain car companies that are hiring professional photographers to go out and create images that look like they were taken on a phone. But look really awesome. So they aren't going over the top with making it where it's like no way that was made on a phone. But they aren't shooting them with phones necessarily, they are shooting them with their normal camera gear. But they process it in a way where maybe it looks believable that it was shot on a phone. And some of them I don't think even care if it looks like it was made on a phone or not. They're just creating content that then they're dishing out through Instagram or Facebook or whatever. So yeah I think that's kind of an exciting time we live in and that's possible in this day and age to do work like that.
And I think businesses are hungry for social media content. The difficulty is how much money they're willing to invest in that. So there's no lack of demand for social media content on all fronts. But it all comes down to how much companies are willing to invest to make it worth your time. And that's different across the board.
We have questions coming in from folks at home who, first of all, Abby everybody loves you. So thank you again. One of the questions actually that had come in earlier that Henry F. had asked is, if you are living in an RV, where is your salesroom? And I know we're gonna talk a little bit about that tomorrow as we talk through sales. But maybe a sneak peek as to how you make that work?
Absolutely. So that was Peter's biggest concern. He was like, how are we gonna do this?
How are we going to make money?
He did sales in a coffee shop for a long time and when we got our sales room in our home, he was like I'm never doing that again. Because it was just so convenient. And now what we've done with our clients and what we've always done with our best clients is, we go to their homes and we can see in their homes this big blank wall that's just begging for something beautiful on it. And we go to them, it's so convenient. They don't have to go anywhere. They get home from work. I'm there, I help them pick out what they want. I tell them where to put it, I measure it so that it's exactly the right size. And it's the best customer service that we can offer. So if we ever do end up and have a home again, I think that we will always offer that service to our clients because it's the best thing that we can do for them.
And really our premium clients are top of the line clients for us. We've been doing that before and so it just makes sense to keep doing it that way. And it's really powerful. And it's awesome when you're there in their home and you can suggest things that they might not have thought of.
I got a question from Kat online. As you look forward now. You've been on the road for two years heading into your third. Two and a half heading into your third. What have you learned that you're going to do differently? Or what are you looking ahead to that you might be looking to change?
Well that's a hard question.
That is a hard question.
More kayaking, no.
Yeah we all love to kayak so that'd be great. I think the answer is that there's not a normal at this point in what we're doing. We're doing so many different things. There's not like that standard thing and that's probably what I thrive off of the most is variety. I've always said that. That's why I like to shoot weddings. Because I walk into every wedding and it's different. I always like challenging myself to never do the same image that I've previously done at a wedding. I'll always say that if I go to a place that I've shot at 30 times, I got to walk out of that with a brand new image that I've never done, never seen before. Something really unique. And that's kind of where we are in our business. Everytime we go out, we're in so many different places, different people, different content, different use. Everything's different and that's really challenging and liberating at the same time.
I think our goals for, we're very goal driven and our goals for 2017 are to improve our video skills. And so we feel very comfortable with still images and we're learning very quickly about video so I think that that's our next horizon that we're looking at. And growing in that area.
"If you're struggling to figure out the business process of photography, this class is one of the clearest and most concise I've ever seen. If you're experienced but the business side and pricing are eluding you, you will find clarity here. I own at least twenty CreativeLive courses and hands down, this one explains pricing and strategy better than any others I've purchased or watched live." - Julie, CreativeLive Student
Join Kathy Holcombe as she shares techniques and strategies to develop the photography business you desire. Whether you’re making the leap from part-time to full-time or starting your very first business, the amount of work can be overwhelming. From what products to offer, how much to charge, how to pay yourself or the legal considerations - start ups often sink before clients are even booked. Kathy will show you the ways to grow your business from the start. This class will cover:
Kathy Holcombe and her husband Peter built one of the top wedding portrait studios in Colorado, then jumped in an RV with the entire family and began traveling the country full-time, and added a successful commercial division. Together they have built multiple successful businesses and have honed in on the important factors that every photographer should consider when building a business.
- Defining what product you are selling and how much you should charge to make a living
- Photography business basics and how to track your income compared to other businesses
- How to write and create your business plan